Editor’s Letter: How Inspired Is Your Brand?

From fine art to sustainable materials, here's what's sparking executives' brave new ideas

Swizz Beatz, plastic bottles, Target, Viacom and AB InBev execs
Entrepreneurs, CMOs and entire industries are drawing inspiration from culture. (L. to r.) Tracy Nguyen for Adweek; Rothy; Trent Joaquin for Adweek; Rebecca Greenfield

The most interesting people to interview are the ones with layers, creatives and executives with varied passions and sources of inspiration who transcend any one project or title or brand. This edition’s cover star, Grammy-winning musician and entrepreneur Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean, is one such person.

You may know him from the 20 years’ worth of music he’s produced for artists like Beyoncé and Kanye West or from the publicity tour he went on earlier this year with his wife, Alicia Keys, and ex-wife Mashonda Tifrere for their book about co-parenting.

I had a chance to sit down with Swizz in his California home two weeks ago and hear about yet another layer: how his passion for art collecting led him to create a business that helps propel emerging artists’ careers.

Swizz invited Brandweek to be the first publication to go inside his stunning glass and stone seaside home. We were privileged to photograph him alongside some of his favorite pieces from the family’s private art collection. In addition to musing about how the light changes in his living room throughout the day and his decorating philosophy—“If I hang it up, I love it,” he said, “because it’s not coming down”—Swizz styled the entire shoot himself. Each time photographer Tracy Nguyen positioned him near a different piece of art, the musical entrepreneur—spontaneously inspired—popped into his bedroom and reemerged in a perfectly complementary outfit. The result is a spread that’s uniquely Swizz.

This issue is all about inspiration. More specifically, it’s about how entrepreneurs, CMOs and entire industries are drawing inspiration from culture to make their businesses more relevant.

For instance, consumers’ growing desire for sustainable products and distaste for fast fashion are leading apparel companies to search for completely unexpected materials (mushroom leather, anyone?). And the most popular eco-friendly fashion is coming from an unlikely source: the plastic bottle.

Be sure to read about how AB InBev took a scary statistic, that young people are losing their taste for beer, and turned it into this year’s biggest beverage innovation. The company is proving it’s not afraid to push well beyond Bud, even dabbling in cannabis-infused drinks in Canada.

Executives from Target and Viacom discuss what’s inspiring them to hire and foster inclusive teams and why that’s so critical for driving product innovation. Meanwhile, Live Nation takes us on a visual journey to a music festival and shows us what opportunities exist for brands along the way. Spoiler: Music lovers don’t just buy a concert ticket; they often spring for clothes, airline tickets, taxis, meals and hotels, too.

I know you’ll find inspiration in these pages and at Brandweek in Palm Springs, Calif., this week. When those creative sparks happen, be sure to tell us about it. We love a good story.

This story first appeared in the Nov. 4, 2019, issue of Brandweek.
@stephpaterik stephanie.paterik@adweek.com Stephanie Paterik is the executive editor of Adweek, where she leads the editorial staff and strategy.